Artists or Artmakers?

Question – “What do you do?”

“Well, I’m an artist.”

Next question – “Oh, cool – what do you paint?”

Why does that “artist” description automatically conjure up someone who paints paintings? If you look up images for the term “artist” on Google, that’s what you’ll see, rows of people at easels painting paintings. (Hi, Bob Ross ♥)

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s no wonder we have a problem calling ourselves “Artists.” That term doesn’t describe what we do because it has so many associations and preconceptions.

But what if I answered, instead, “Well, I”m an Artmaker.” The next question would be, “What kind of art do you MAKE?”

This difference is HUGE!

Now I can answer, “Hmm –  that’s tricky, but basically I work with my hands in my studio on all kinds of artwork that connects us.” Then I can click a few photos on my phone that I have ready to go. And hopefully, a conversation starts. Maybe like this —

“I make sometimes paintings, but they are not traditional paintings . . .still, people seem to like them.” (click)

“I do assemblage work” (click)

I work in beeswax wax and paint for all kinds of different projects and objects: (click)

“Sometimes work with photographs and fiber” – (click)

And so on – not too many photos (if you get that far) – just four or five.

Or if you (like I) use MOO business cards that let you have as many as 50 different images, you can show several of those, and hopefully, your inquirer will take a card, any card. Ask, “What’s your favorite?”

The point is, we are ARTMAKERS. From the introduction to Melanie Falick’s wonderful book, Making a Life, “We make art to connect with others. To express ideas and emotions, feel competent, create something tangible and long-lasting. And to feed the soul.”

What do YOU do?? If you find yourself mumbling that you are “an, er, artist” (and thinking “am I a real artist, or what — why do I call my self that, what does it mean anyway, urg, it sounds so pretentious, I don’t even have a true studio,etc. etc., rethink that.

Tell them with a happy smile that you are an Artmaker. It’s more than semantics. It’s how and why you work to make beautiful things. Feel the truth of that through your heart and soul right down to your toes. Then get ready for an interesting conversation!

21 thoughts on “Artists or Artmakers?

  1. Really Great post, as I and many of my cohorts have pondered this very question of title for many years. We always shy away from using the word Art’ or Artist, especially when selling work or naming eclectic business and gallery’s that cater to a wide variety of eclectic Artwerks. Thank you, very good food for thought

  2. Cool article.
    I have been using ” a Creative” (yes – I know not really a noun. But works for me:):):) – and for the clothing part I use wearable art designer.
    Art Maker sums it all up nicely.

  3. I wish I had read this a year ago. I showed a friend of a friend my studio and some of my art. She said I had an expensive hobby. I didn’t know what to say because my art isn’t a hobby. It is my heart and soul. I need to make a sign in my studio that says. “ I make art to connect with others, to express ideas and emotions, to create something tangible and long lasting, and to feed my soul.” Thank you for those words

  4. I love this Lyn! I feel like an imposter calling myself an artist, and not committed or serious if I call myself a crafter. Artmaker is what I am and do! Perfect! Thank you for giving me a name!

  5. Nonsense! Artist implies easel art and other uses are a corruption of the English language. The word ‘art” does not have these limitations so the term ‘Artmaker’ is an invented word, acceptable to those who choose to use it.

  6. I love this post it really made me think. I am an Art Psychotherapist who loves your work . I usual say I am a Creative Arts Psychotherapist as to me it conjures up more thoughts than just painting. I think it inspirers more conversations than the traditional “I am an Art Therapist.
    I am about to submit my application into a Masters program here in Brisbane, Australia and think I will have to work on how to weave in “Art Maker” into my application writing.Thank you for this idea.
    I have taken many of your online classes and one day hope to be able to do one face to face with you Lynne. Looking forward to what you have to share with us in the future. Regards from Down Under Sharon.

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